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Best Tips for Cooking on the Road

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Best Tips for Cooking on the Road

Old 12-01-20, 12:48 PM
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John N
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Best Tips for Cooking on the Road

After being motivated by this thread https://forums.adventurecycling.org/...?topic=16690.0 , I wanted to know what everyone's best tip is for when you are cooking on the road while bicycle touring. I will start.

1) Use a paper grocery sack as a clean and disposable "food preparation" mat or place mat.
2) Add dried WHOLE milk (found in Mexican grocery stores) to Knor Pasta Sides which really improves the flavor. Dried whole milk is much better than the usual low-fat or fat-free dried milk.
3) Use an egg protector and carry fresh eggs. The raw eggs will stay fresh at least a week if you coat the shell with a thin layer of coconut oil (mineral oil will work too).

What tips can you share?

Bon Appetite, John
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Old 12-01-20, 12:59 PM
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Have something - preferably insulated - that can be closed so you can soak your beans and cook your rice/pasta without the need to do it over your cooker. An insulated coffee mug is perfect for a single person. To cook your rice/pasta in the thermal mug, put in your rice or pasta,and then poor boiling water into it afterwards, freeing your pot to fry stuff in.

I have an Elite Deboyo mug which has a ridge for a bottle cage. It's 500ml if I remember correctly.

At other times, it can be used as a good coffee mug - which is what I use it as most of the time.
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Old 12-01-20, 05:01 PM
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I'm a lazy back-country chef most of the time. I am usually tired after riding most of the day. I have found I eat best if I only need to boil water, add to freeze dried meal in an insulated container ( I use a Jetboil) , wait 5-15 minutes and eat. Jetboil, while not very compact does a nice job with insulation and light weight enough. It is also easy to use and clean.
I do like to mix my own dried meals, much cheaper and better tasting IMHO. I keep it simple tho'. I have been slowly collecting dried foods for some of their recipes. I use some recipes and tips from these 2 outdoor folks.

Skurka, long distance ultra lightweight backpacker guy
https://andrewskurka.com/tag/backpacking-meal-recipes/

Kirkconnell, great recipes. Also a long time contributor to backpackinglight. Her recipes for Freezer Bag Cooking are perfect. I don't use freezer bags though. I use small and thin bags.
https://trailcooking.com/
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Old 12-01-20, 05:30 PM
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My cooking is very different on a short trip than a long trip.

Very different in hot weather or cold weather. Cold weather am more inclined to want hot filling meals. Hot weather, less likely to carry anything that is very perishable. And if it may go below freezing, that limits use of liquids in cans or bottles.

Very different if I can re-supply at grocery stores every few days instead of weeks. Might even buy some salad mixes if practical.

I quit using liquid fuel stoves on trips when I fly there, only butane mix on such trips. Too much hassle to get a stove and fuel bottles prepped for airline security.

Inclined to put more effort in if there are more in the group than one.

So, not much here for suggestions as there are way too many variables, there is no generic cooking plan.

That said, someone recently asked me about food planning and prep on longer trips where you may go a long time between grocery stores, my response was oriented towards solo camping and was at this post:
https://www.bikeforums.net/21674202-post25.html

A side note: I used to buy Mountain House Breakfast Skillet breakfasts in number 10 cans, can held 10 servings and was about 25 oz of food. Mountain house now puts 15 oz in the same sized can. I think it highly unlikely that I will be buying any more cans of that since they are charging the same price or more, but give you about 40 percent less in the can.
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Old 12-02-20, 06:35 AM
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Have the right equipment for how you cook, and be inventive.






I usually cut vegetables and sometimes meat, so a paper placemat wouldnít work. Can one even find paper bags regularly?

I almost always cook dinner at home and shop on a daily basis. I enjoy what is sometimes the challenge of trying to cobble together dinner from a small town grocery store, trying to keep some pasta with me as a base.

Pasta with canned chili and canned mushrooms at Rockwood on the GAP back in September. Very small selection at the Dollar Store.





While I make coffee every morning I donít cook breakfasts. The most I will do is toast a bagel in my large pot if itís cold out. I like to hit the road early so I donít want to spend the time doing ďdishes.Ē

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Old 12-02-20, 08:01 AM
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Tourist,

Thanks for the response. Yes, I do understand that cooking styles may definitely be different depending on the specific tour. This post is more intended to provide tips, even if for a specific style tour. For instance, for an over-nighter, I will just pre-slice cheese, salami, etc. so I don't even need to take a stove or cook set.

If you have any tips, it would be appreciated.

Tailwinds, John
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Old 12-02-20, 08:06 AM
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Indy, yes of course cutting wet items on a paper sack usually doesn't work and yes they are still available in independent grocery stores (usually in small towns) usually if you ask. But they are good as a clean counter top so you don't have to lay your food on the dirt or a moldy table.
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Old 12-02-20, 08:20 AM
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This page has 34 links to information about food while traveling. Not all of them are about food preparation, but most of them are. Also, the majority of them are from threads on this forum.
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Old 12-02-20, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by TulsaJohn View Post
...For instance, for an over-nighter, I will just pre-slice cheese, salami, etc. so I don't even need to take a stove or cook set...
This is my best tip. I never enjoyed camp cooking, hate cleaning up, and don't drink coffee. It took an embarrassingly long time to figure out that leaving the cook kit at home greatly improved my travel style. I eat better with more fresh fruit and veg, less sodium, less packaging. One less chore to resupply fuel on long trips. Dry camps are more pleasant and way more frequent. Fewer food odors in grizz country.
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Old 12-02-20, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
This is my best tip. I never enjoyed camp cooking, hate cleaning up, and don't drink coffee. It took an embarrassingly long time to figure out that leaving the cook kit at home greatly improved my travel style. I eat better with more fresh fruit and veg, less sodium, less packaging. One less chore to resupply fuel on long trips. Dry camps are more pleasant and way more frequent. Fewer food odors in grizz country.
I hear ya but coffee is my main reason for cooking gear.
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Old 12-02-20, 08:53 AM
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Real hard cheeses keep well even in the heat as does hard salami and pepperoni. They may get oily and look terrible but remain edible. They add a lot to simple dishes like ramen noodles (I don't make mine soupy) or eggs. Hot sauce helps too.

Bags of shredded cabbage keep pretty well and are nice for wraps and so on. Foil packs of chicken, tuna, salmon, and individual serving spam are all handy for use with pasta, rice, quinoa, or just by themselves.

I don't tend to do a lot of real cooking on tour. I am a good cook and capable of it, but tend to ride long days and seldom want to make the effort. For my camp cooking, I tend to eat a lot of simple one pot dishes, but splurge on something nicer once in a while. When close to a store a frozen pasta dish, bag salad, and small bottle of wine is a nice treat with very little effort in cooking.

I agree on the powdered whole milk suggestion. Look for the Nido brand if you have trouble spotting it on the shelf. It is sometimes with the international foods and sometimes with the other powdered milk.
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Old 12-02-20, 08:56 AM
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Indyfabz showed his equipment, here is mine from a five week trip that was a year and a half ago. Flew on an airline, I left the liquid fuel stove at home due to the hassle of prepping a stove for TSA inspections. This is for a solo trip. Larger group means bigger pots and pans, maybe another stove, etc.



Upper left to upper right:
Some aluminum foil, stove, pasta sieve (hold against pot when draining), shallow titamium mug that can also be used as a small pot, nested with plastic meauring cup, plastic bowl, plastic bottle with instant coffee.
Middle, left to right:
Antique can opener, cork screw, small wind screen, upside down small fry pan.
Bottom row:
Cheese slicer, spatula, another spatula, fork, spoon, paring knife with sheath, cutting board (former coffee can lid), wood spoon, pot lifter for fry pan, titanium coooking pot with lid, double wall coffee mug with lid.

Not shown:
Fuel canister(s), lighters and matches (usuually bring a disposable butane lighter or two, couple books of paper matches), a plastic shallow thing shaped like a pan that I can put warm water in and set a nearly empty stove canister in it to keep the canister warm enough that the stove works well. Some trips I bring a "bucket" that used to be the bottom part of a one gallon disposable plastic jug, probably from vinegar, weighs nothing and comes in handy for a variety of things.

The fry pan was from Ikea, I drilled out the two rivets to remove the handle, I pack a piece of paper towel over it to protect the non-stick surface and put it in a plastic bag. Fry pan, bowl and a bunch of other stuff here nests in the pot.

You could say that the bike water bottles (not shown) are part of the camp kitchen, they are used to carry your campsite water supply, etc. Touring, I use disposable one liter SmartWater or one liter Life WTR bottles, the one liter (and only the one liter) size bottles fit in a bike bottle cage nicely. Yes they are disposable, but I re-use them, I bring empty ones from home to use on my tours because they work great and I can carry three on my frame. The bottle under the downtube, I use a velcro strap to make sure that it stays in the cage.

Some of the gear above is in use in photos at the link that I posted above and repeat here:
https://www.bikeforums.net/21674202-post25.html

ADDENDUM ADDED LATER:
Folded up bandana for a hot pad. For example to hold the sieve against the pot to drain pasta noodles.
And a 2 oz bottle of soap or scrubby pad for cleanup.

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Old 12-02-20, 09:39 AM
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My photo was pre-dinner so it did not include my Bodum Travel Press French press/mug. Brew and drink from one vessel.

A hack I use to save fuel when my cooking water is cold is to fill up the large pot I use for pasta, cover it and put it in the sun when there is some.

One night during my last trip I had pre-cooked chicken sausage that was supposed to be kept chilled until use. There was a creek running along my campsite. Since the package was sealed I put it in a plastic bag and weighted it down in the water with a rock.

Always have fresh garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper for an emergency meal. Aleppo pepper flakes are a light weight way to and some zing to a meal.
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Old 12-02-20, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by TulsaJohn View Post
Indy, yes of course cutting wet items on a paper sack usually doesn't work and yes they are still available in independent grocery stores (usually in small towns) usually if you ask. But they are good as a clean counter top so you don't have to lay your food on the dirt or a moldy table.
Not just wet items. My knife is pretty sharp. Iíd likely shred a paper bag cutting things like onions and chopping fresh garlic. Thatís why I have a small, light cutting board. (A bit obscured by the shallot.) I used to carry a large Lexan plate that served as my cutting board, but I never used it for eating so I leave it home now.

The relative new to me pieces of food gear that I love are my collapsible, nesting bowl and cup from Sea to Summit. So less bulky than my Lexan bowl and cup.
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Old 12-02-20, 09:54 AM
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If you have a grocery source close by and thus donít have to carry cans far, crab with fresh asparagus makes for a nice change of pace. Adding some reserved pasta water makes it saucier.


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Old 12-03-20, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Real hard cheeses keep well even in the heat as does hard salami and pepperoni. They may get oily and look terrible but remain edible........
An anecdote from a back, not bike, packing trip.

Years ago on my first trip out West I brought along all of the above in ziplock bags along with all my other foods in a bear canister (grizzly country). It was August and got up into the 60's-70's, and all the above food sweated out oils, which made their way past the ziplock seals and leaked all over the inside of the can. So I was one big pungent piece of bear bait. I spent MUCH time scrubbing the contents and the inside of the can with snow and chucking the contaminated snowballs as far into Upper Aero Lake as I could. As it was the only creatures to visit camp that night were mountain goats.

So be mindful of containing those foods effectively.
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Old 12-03-20, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe View Post
An anecdote from a back, not bike, packing trip.

Years ago on my first trip out West I brought along all of the above in ziplock bags along with all my other foods in a bear canister (grizzly country). It was August and got up into the 60's-70's, and all the above food sweated out oils, which made their way past the ziplock seals and leaked all over the inside of the can. So I was one big pungent piece of bear bait. I spent MUCH time scrubbing the contents and the inside of the can with snow and chucking the contaminated snowballs as far into Upper Aero Lake as I could. As it was the only creatures to visit camp that night were mountain goats.

So be mindful of containing those foods effectively.
Good point. They can put out a lot of messy oil. I bet it would be a real mess if it escaped into the rest of your food or worse yet your gear. I have not had much trouble containing them in good quality Ziploc bags, the heavy duty freezer ones, but double bagging is a good idea especially if they will get rough handling or be packed tightly with other things that are hard on the bags. I think we most often single bagged the individual items, but did have the collection of items in another big Ziploc bag. Strangely enough I don't recall ever carrying that kind of stuff in my bear canister, but if I had, I'd probably individually double bag the items.

It is always smart to segregate all food from clothing and other gear like sleeping and shelter stuff, but it is especially true of this stuff.
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Old 12-03-20, 07:27 AM
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I always double bag my ground coffee. Ask me why. That stuff is a PITA to get out of a pannier.

A few years ago a raccoon started to run off with an empty pannier that had earlier held all my food which I had stored in the restroom. I assume the lingering odor from a very aromatic everything bagel was the attraction.
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Old 12-03-20, 08:03 AM
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I have not needed to carry bear safe containers or otherwise prepare for bears on any of the bike tours that I have done. But I have on canoe, kayak, and backpacking trips.

Past threads on this forum have included positive comments on the Ursack for bear protection instead of canisters. I have bought an Ursack but not used it yet, thus I can't comment on it yet.
https://ursack.com/

I have been hanging food for decades. I use two lines, one or two carabiners, one or two rescue pulleys, but that is more equipment than most people. First photo, small amount of food, second and third for more people for more days. No bears have yet gotten to my food after many decades of camping in bear country.







But do not assume you can find a good bear tree at every campsite, I often can't.

But rodents, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons are more likely to be a problem.


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Old 12-03-20, 08:40 AM
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Thanks Raybo
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Old 12-03-20, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I have not needed to carry bear safe containers or otherwise prepare for bears on any of the bike tours that I have done. But I have on canoe, kayak, and backpacking trips.

Past threads on this forum have included positive comments on the Ursack for bear protection instead of canisters. I have bought an Ursack but not used it yet, thus I can't comment on it yet.
https://ursack.com/

I have been hanging food for decades. I use two lines, one or two carabiners, one or two rescue pulleys, but that is more equipment than most people. First photo, small amount of food, second and third for more people for more days. No bears have yet gotten to my food after many decades of camping in bear country.
Yeah, all of my bear canister experience is from other camping, not bike related. The majority of the time while bike touring in places where bears are the biggest problem there have been bear lockers. Other places in bear country the bears are a little less habituated to stealing food from humans and have never defeated whatever methods I have used to keep them out of my food. I have learned various hanging techniques over the years and have been successful. I have used other options at times like in a park where the state forest rangers said "store food in your car trunk", I asked someone to put it in their car. I have stored it in the rest room a couple times. A once I just left it on the ground well away from camp and took my chances when there were no trees and nowhere else to put the food bag. I was wishing I had an Ursack that day, but I got lucky there in that I had no thieving visitors that night. I fully expected to be buying new food the next morning, but it was untouched.

I have often considered an Ursack, but never pulled the trigger on the purchase. I always hoped they would be approved for use in all of the National Parks and Forests. If they were I'd buy one in a heartbeat. As it is I use a canister for backpacking where required and hang food where one isn't if bear lockers are not present. Bike touring I have not run into any situation where canisters were required and there wasn't a locker or some other option.

I have forgotten a small food item in a pannier pocket once or twice and had raccoons get into it. The little bastards slobbered up a powerbar, put it back and rezipped a pannier pocket. I didn't find it for days. The scent lingered for years and that pocket frequently got opened by raccoons. Most often they pulled everything out of the pocket and threw it on the ground. Then inexplicably most of the time they would zip the pocket back up.
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Old 12-03-20, 09:51 AM
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Cook rice. Throw in a can of beans when done. Add olive oil, garlic, and tabasco.

For variety use different beans each evening 😁
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Old 12-03-20, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
Cook rice. Throw in a can of beans when done. Add olive oil, garlic, and tabasco.

For variety use different beans each evening 😁
Beans with pasta, garlic, hot pepper flakes and olive oil has seen me through many a day where I did not want to carry much food. Being able to add some fresh sage is a bonus.

Sardines/herring make a yummy snack or breakfast.
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Old 12-03-20, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Sardines/herring make a yummy snack or breakfast.
Not a fan of them for breakfast, but sardines in mustard sauce on crackers is a great snack or light lunch.
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Old 12-03-20, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post

But rodents, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons are more likely to be a problem.

Heh. Cutie. On my first ever tour I made the mistake of leaving a oaf of bread in my tent on a day off while I went to visit a historical site. The state park was full of squirrels gathering nuts for the upcoming winter. Some sort of rodent chewed a hole through my tent mesh and had a feast.

And don't forget birds. In the early days of the trip we camped at Colonial Creek on the North Cascades Highway. Our group leader had removed a bag of cereal from its box and had strapped it to the outside of his B.O.B. trailer bag for easy of carry to the campground. During the group meeting that afternoon we looked over to see a Stellar Jay picking at the bag.

When I did a week backcountry backpack trip in Glacier N.P. I marveled at the intelligence of the ground squirrels. They would build tunnel openings close to the seats in the food prep/eating areas to scavenge for scraps dropped by careless humans.
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